The Pillars of Creation are actually dark clouds of gas and dust, similar to Bok globules, found in the Eagle nebula. The Eagle nebula itself is a bright cloud of gas and dust, so... same basic concept, just lit up like a Christmas tree and superimposed over it are the dark fingers of "The Pillars."
However... a recent Spitzer telescope wide view image of the Eagle Nebula shows that a shockwave from a supernova is moving through the nebula. Because the Eagle Nebula is 7,000 light years away, we can still see the Pillars, but this would suggest that they were swept away and destroyed by the shockwave 6,000 years ago, and we're just waiting for the image of that to travel the last 1,000 light years to Earth so we can see it.
That's the weirdest thing about looking into space; you're also looking backwards in time. What we see 7,000 light years away is what was there 7,000 years ago... not now. I can't recall off hand any science fiction stories that have made hay with that concept; once you get out into space, it's suddenly different than what you see on earth because of the things that you can't have seen yet. It'd make for a great story concept, though.